The MBB / Kawasaki BK.117 is a ten-seat multi-mission medium-weight class, twin-engine helicopter. Development of the
BK117 started in 1977 as a co production between MBB from Germany and Kawasaki Heavy Industries from Japan. The
first of four prototypes, two built by MBB in Donauwörth and two by Kawasaki in Gifu, flew in Germany on 13 June 1979.
The first prototype built in Japan flew on 10 August 1979. The first production aircraft (built by KHI in Japan)
flew in December 1981, and first deliveries took place early in 1983. Initial production was of the BK 117 A1, while the
BK 117 A3 with higher max takeoff weight and enlarged tail rotor with twisted blades was certificated in March 1985.
The BK 117 A4 with increased performance and improved tail rotor head was introduced in 1987. When the helicopter
divisions of MBB from Germany and Aerospatiale from France merged in January 1992 to form the Eurocopter
Group, the MBB BK.117 program was transferred as well. In 2002, the assembly line for the Eurocopter BK 117 C-1 twin
helicopter was transferred from its German production facility in Donauwörth to Trento in Italy. Eurocopter uses the
production facilities in Donauwörth for the EC 145 multi-role helicopter. This EC 145 flew first in 1999 and has been
jointly developed by Eurocopter and Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan. The EC 145 is designated the BK 117 C-2 in Japan.
Over 400 Eurocopter / Kawasaki BK 117 helicopters in different versions were built, including production under licence
by IPTN in Indonesia and Avionline in Italy.
As a result of the merger between the Eurocopter parents Aérospatiale-Matra; DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA)
and Construcciones Aeronàuticas Sociedad Anonima (CASA) in July 2000, the Eurocopter group became a division of the new formed
EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space company). Taking off into 2014, EADS was rebranded as "Airbus Group". Uniting
all its activities under a single brand, its helicopter division Eurocopter was rebranded as Airbus Helicopters on 8 January 2014.
In April 1985, permit to fly as D-HBNS was issued for the 1986-built MBB
BK.117A-3 c/n 7071. On 12 February 1986, the MBB BK.117A-3 was
registered D-HBNS with MBB - Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm, Ottobrunn
Heliport. On 9 December 1985, the helicopter was temporarely registered
N953MB in the USA. On 21 July 1986, registration N971US was reserved for
the aircraft, but ntu. On 5 September 1986, the MBB BK.117A-3 was
temporarely registered N117VU. On 16 March 1990, the MBB BK.117A-3 was
temporarely registered N117VB. On 30 October 1992, registration N117VB
was cancelled and the Eurocopter BK.117A-3 returned to Germany.
Eurocopter Deutschland upgraded the aircraft to the BK.117-B-2 standard
and permit to fly as D-HMBG was issued in 1993 On 8 July 1993, the
helicopter was registered SE-JBG in Sweden with Heliflyg AB as operator
and Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH as owner. On 24 May 1994, registration
SE-JBG was cancelled and the BK.117-B-2 returned to Germany and was
registered D-HMBH. In service with Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH, the
helicopter was re-registered D-HECC and on 20 August 1997 seen in Italy with PROMOT Lainopolous,
Greece, titles. On 18 December 1997, registration D-HECC was cancelled and the
BK.117-B-2 was registered PT-YMD in Brazil on 8 July 1998. After
registration PT-YMD was cancelled on 13 April 1999, the Eurocopter
BK.117-B-2 was registered D-HQQQ in Germany with DRF (Deutsche Rettungflugwacht e.V) and entered service in October 1999.
Starting from 23 September 2008, the DRF-Deutsche Rettungsflugwacht e.V. introduced a new name and logo. From
that day, the former DRF consists of three parts: a non-profit sponsored
association, a foundation under public law and a non-profit corporation
which is the operational unit. The operational work of the DRF continued
as before. The German air rescue companies HSD-Hubschauber Sonder Dienst
Flugbetriebs and HDM Luftrettung also appeared under the name of DRF
Luftrettung starting from 23 September 2008. The previous branding of
“Air Rescue Alliance TEAM DRF” is no longer used. When seen at Halle-Oppin,
MBB BK.117-B-2 D-HQQQ was in service as ITH "Christoph Halle".
In November 2011, DRF ordered 25 EC145 T2 helicopters as replacement for the MBB BK117's in service for delivery from December
2013 through 2022.
RTH (Rettungstransporthubschrauber) MBB BK.117-B-2 D-HQQQ was seen at the
helipad of the Luftrettungszentrum Halle in Oppin, Germany, when in service as
"Christoph Halle". This Air Rescue Centre is situated next to Halle-Oppin Airport.
Operations of Luftrettungszentrum Halle started on 1 July 1991, as HSD-Luftrettungszentrum Halle at Flugplatz Halle-Oppin.
In January 2007, the HSD-Luftrettungszentrum Halle moved to a new site next to Flugplatz Halle-Oppin. From the start,
both helicopters of Luftrettungszentrum Halle, "Christoph Halle" and "Christoph Sachsen-Anhalt" are
operated by HSD-Hubschauber Sonder Dienst Flugbetriebs GmbH & CO. KG. Since 1 January 2012, Luftrettungszentrum Halle
is operated by the Bewerbergemeinschaft HSD Luftrettung gemeinnützige GmbH and DRF Stiftung Luftrettung gemeinnützige AG.
Luftrettungszentrum Halle is on 24-hour standby. Callsign "Christoph" is used for the German lifeliner
helicopters since 1970 and is derived of Saint Christophorus, the Patron Saint for all travellers.